10 November 2021

SUBJECTS: The mysterious disappearance of Morrison’s last CEFC bill; CCS; EV policy; Labor’s EV tax cut; election timing; Morrison can’t be trusted to seize climate opportunities.
MICHAEL ROWLAND, HOST: 500 million dollar fund the government is hoping to set up
CHRIS BOWEN, SHADOW MINISTER FOR CLIMATE CHANGE AND ENERGY: Good morning to you, Michael. A couple of points. Firstly, of course, we'll look at the detail. Our objections have been the diversion of money for renewable energy into other technologies. The Government spins this is new money, but we'll look at the detail. And let me make a few points. This is all about politics. When you see the Prime Minister's comments in the newspapers this morning and the Government's backgrounding it's all about some sort of fight with Labor not about actually doing anything for the climate. It's all about spin and politics.
Secondly, they're setting it up as some sort of fight with Labor, every time the Government's tried to change the CEFC legislation, it's failed. Not because so much of the Labor Party, but because they've dropped it because of the National Party trying to put coal and nuclear into the CEFC legislation. So now this is a test for Matt Canavan and Gerard Rennick. Are they going to move amendments to put nuclear and coal in like they've done before and we'll see all this end like we've seen the other Government's attempts to change the CEFC legislation in the past?
Thirdly, Michael and finally, just two weeks ago, the Prime Minister told us he didn't need any new policies to meet his climate change targets and net zero, it was all based on existing policies and assumptions and technology. Now we're seeing that because of political pressure, apparently a policy a day, so all this comes after Glasgow because the Government's feeling pressure, it's all spin. You can't trust this government on climate change, they don't believe it. It's a five minutes to midnight conversion. They're prejudiced against renewable energy. You've got the resources minister saying solar panels are no good because they don't work at night. These guys don't get it. They can't be trusted.
ROWLAND: Okay, let's go back to the detail, this is an attempt to expand the remit of the Clean Energy Finance, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to include technologies including carbon capture and storage on that basis, and it's got to go to Parliament, would Labor support that overarching bill?
BOWEN: As I said Michael at the very, at the very beginning, we'll look at the detail. All we’ve seen is spin so far. For example, two weeks ago, I said the government should be looking at funding asparagopsis, the seaweed which can reduce methane from cattle. Barnaby Joyce raced into Parliament's and said I didn't know what I was talking about what an outrageous and silly thing to say, the only way to reduce methane in agriculture is to shoot all the cows. Now they're talking about funding asparagopsis through this fund. I mean, they just can't be trusted their story changes day. I mean, there's a Minister
ROWLAND: The reason I ask, excuse the interruption, Labor has opposed efforts in the past to expand the remit of the corporation for carbon capture and storage…
BOWEN: No Michael what we’ve…
ROWLAND: If it meant sacrificing all the other measures the Government is on about would the Government, would the Labor Party still oppose this legislation?
BOWEN: We've opposed the diversion of renewable energy funding to carbon capture and storage, we have. If this is genuinely new money, then we'll look at it in that light and my position on carbon capture and storage remains the same as I said on insiders on Sunday, I'm a pragmatist. I think the Government puts too much store in it, it's not the answer to all our problems, it’s not an excuse to reduce not to reduce emissions. If it can play some role in some sectors, not just carbon capture and storage, carbon capture, use and storage then fine. It's not going to play a role in coal, there is no evidence that it will ever play a role in coal, can it play a role complementing emissions reduction in some other areas, hopefully, yes, sure.
Our objection has been the constant attempts by the government to dilute ARENA and CEFC funding away from renewable energy into carbon capture and storage. If this is genuinely new money then we'll look at the detail but this has been all spin this morning. We still don’t have a formal announcement from the Government on the substance.
And this, as I said before, this Minister in particular has form, Angus Taylor introduced legislation to change the CEFC a few months ago, he called it a milestone and we haven't seen it since. Why? Because the National party moved amendments to put nuclear and coal into the CEFC and he had to drop it, it turned from a milestone into a millstone.
ROWLAND: Okay, let's go back to the electric vehicles policy, well the new one announced by the Prime Minister yesterday one of the strong criticisms you've made about it is the absence of fuel efficiency standards on cars as part of that, is that something Labor would consider?
BOWEN: Well, this is an extraordinary of course backflip that Scott Morrison lied about electric vehicles at the last election and now he's lying about lying about electric vehicles. And what we've seen is a very small baby step yesterday. Charging infrastructure is great we know it's important for range in anxiety, but the money that the Federal Government put in yesterday is even less than the New South Wales Government has put in in one state, and they haven't tackled the challenge of reducing or the opportunity of reducing the price of electric vehicles.
Why don't they match Labor's tax cut for EVs? That's our policy to reduce the price of electric vehicles, give people more choice, a substantial tax cut, particularly for business buying fleet. Fifty per cent of our purchases are fleet and fleets turnover every three years. So that's a very big policy from Labor to reduce the cost.
In relation to other policies. We said we'll have an electric vehicle strategy, and we'll have more to say about that, but this was a tiny baby step, the Government just doesn't believe it.
ROWLAND: Okay, but as you know, it's pretty much where the rest of the world is going, including the US and the EU imposing fuel efficiency standards is it something the Labor Party will seriously consider putting forward to the Australian people?
BOWEN: Well, the UK and the US and the EU actually have bans on internal combustion engines at certain points in the future. We won't be doing that. As I said, Michael, we announced the cost offering of our electric vehicle policy, I would have liked the Government to match that. In terms of other policies, we'll have more to say in due course.
ROWLAND: It’s going to be a long election campaign, isn't it?
BOWEN: Always is Michael, always is. Particularly for those of us who are doing it every day. Yeah, look, the Prime Minister's in full spin mode he’s clearly feeling the pressure he’s out, you know, spinning away. Just two weeks ago, he said we didn't need any new policies. Now he's announcing the policy a day I think the Liberal Party is feeling some pressure.
ROWLAND: Okay, one commentator this morning is saying Scott Morrison is setting up a six month election campaign to in his words, wear down Anthony Albanese over the next six months, to quote Paul Keating, are you worried about Scott Morrison doing Anthony Albanese slowly?
BOWEN: I think Anthony Albanese has got plenty of energy. I have absolutely no problems with, if that's what he wants to do, a long campaign - fine. If he wants a short campaign, bring it on. We're ready. If he wants a long campaign, only he can call the election. He'll engage in his politics and his spin and his lies in his dishonesty. It's what Scott Morrison does. Anthony Albanese and the Labor team will be putting forward an alternative plan for Australia. An alternative not an echo.
We’ll be of course outlining the many failings of this Government, particularly climate change, dead last in the world today Michael dead last. Second last last year, dead last this year. That's the price of eight years of denial and delay and dishonesty on climate. The most important issue facing the country, the world's biggest challenge and Australia's biggest economic opportunity, and we are dead last on Scott Morrison's watch. He wants a late election because he's worried okay, if he wants an early election, that's fine too. We will be ready either way. And Anthony Albanese will be campaigning right across the country and taking the fight up to Scott Morrison.
ROWLAND: Chris Bowen, appreciate your time this morning. Thank you.
BOWEN: Always a pleasure Michael.